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Foretokens of Immortality 

Studies "for the hour when the 

immortal hope burns low 

in the heart" 

Newell Dwight Hillis 

Author of " A Man's Value to Society' 

Chicago, New York, Toronto 

Fleming H. Revell Company 

Dl: . ' LIBRARY 


Copyright, 1897, by 

Fleming H. Re veil Company 

To My 

Father and Mother 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 


Our age is busily engaged in restating its funda- 
mental faiths. Already the essential truths of 
Christianity have received new form and simpler 
setting. If formerly the attitude of science was not 
favorable to Christianity, now reasons are not want- 
ing for the belief that faith in the great central 
truths of the Christian religion is steadily waxing. 
How the advance of physical science has affected 
the faith in a future life is a problem that has been 
discussed elsewhere. Without attempting to review 
that argument, I offer here these brief practical 
studies for " the hour when the immortal hope burna 
low in the heart." 

N. D. H. 



Foregleams of Immortality .... 7 
Immortality and Life's Withheld Completions 31 

Christ and Immortality 57 

The Witness of Great Men to Immortality . 79 


" The faith of immortality depends on a sense of it 
begotten, not on an argument of it concluded. " — Bush- 

' ' I cannot believe, and cannot be brought to believe, 
that the purpose of our creation is fulfilled by our 
short existence here. To me the existence of another 
world is a necessary supplement of this, to adjust its 
inequalities, and imbue it with moral significance." 
— Thurloio Weed. 

" And hear at times a sentinel 
Who moves about from place to place, 
And whispers to the worlds of space, 
In the deep night, that all is well. 

" And all is well, though faith and form 
Be sundered in the night of fear ; 
Well roars the storm to those that hear 
A deeper voice across the storm." 

— " In Memoriam." 

"It can hardly be gain for us to die, until it is 
Christ for us to live." — Bascom. 

" For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place 

The flood may bear me far, 

I hope to see my Pilot face to face 

When I have crossed the bar." 


" Let not your heart be troubled. In my Father's 
house are many mansions. Because I live ye shall 
live also." — John 14. 


QCIENCE makes much of the climatic changes 
that have befallen our planet. It tells 
us that Labrador, the land of ice and snow, 
was once a tropic realm, a wilderness of fruits 
and flowers. But some disturbance gave our 
earth a new inclination toward the sun, and 
rays that had been perpendicular and power- 
ful became slanting and feeble. Then a chill 
stole into the air, and the land that had never 
known frost was soon sheeted o'er with snow 
and ice, while the Amazon, hitherto the home 
of the iceberg, passed into warmth and per- 
petual summer. The climatic change that has 
passed over the physical world may well inter- 
pret for man the larger fact that the soul 
stands in a new relation to death and dying, 
so that summer reigns where once winter 

Be the reasons what they may, all must con- 

Foretokens of Immortality 

fess that society approaches the topic of im- 
mortality with a new interest and spirit. 
Paganism is perishing. The old philosophy 
gave us images of the scythe, the skull and 
crossbones, caused the tomb to drip with 
horrors, taught men to darken the windows, 
to blacken the hearse, the house and the hu- 
man body with plumes plucked from the wings 
of midnight. But the philosophy that pictured 
death as a monster, is itself death-struck and 
dying. Science, that once clipped the wings 
of faith, is now learning to soar and sing. If 
land is not yet sighted, we sail through a sum- 
mer sea, midst drifting boughs whose leaves 
have not yet withered; the birds that fly over- 
head belong to climes near, though still un- 
seen; the air, laden with perfume, foretells the 
continent that lies before and lures us on. Let 
us, with Lowell, confess that Death, once dis- 
guised as an executioner, has dropped the iron 
mask and stands revealed as an angel in dis- 
guise — God's seraph, come for man's release 
and convoy. 

Of immortality, the seer said, ' < We know in 
part." But this annunciation of ignorance 

Foregleams of Immortality 

does not destroy hope; it rather stirs expect- 
ancy. How meager the civilization that a child 
can comprehend! How scant the science that 
a babe can master! Each artist pupil fronting 
some masterpiece hears a still small voice, say- 
ing, "Knowledge is partial." The sum of 
man's wisdom represents but the merest 
handful. Man understands according to the 
nature of his faculties. The fool says in his 
heartj "There is no God," and rightly so; 
there is none — for a fool. Wisdom is not dis- 
cerned by foolishness, nor music by deafness. 
The melody is one-half in the singer's voice ; 
the other half is in the cultured ear. Beauty 
is but half canvas; its complement is the re- 
fined vision. As the Italian king, dwelling in 
his gloomy fortress, opened up windows 
through which he looked out on lakes and 
vineyards and distant mountains, so each new 
knowledge is a new window opened up in the 
soul's mansion through which it looks out on 
realms divine. The savage dwelling in the 
forest is like a man sitting in a dungeon, 
whose only outlook upon the landscape is 
through narrow slits in the stone wall. Sit- 

Foretokens of Immortality 

ting there in darkness the savage starves to 
death. But open up in him taste and imagi- 
nation, and all the arts, useful and beautiful, 
pass before his rejoicing sight. Open up rea- 
son and memory, and he looks out upon the up- 
ward progress of society , beholds man's conflicts 
and victories, and like Burke, gleaning midst 
the ripe fields, takes on a rich, strong man- 
hood. With each new inch added to the diam- 
eter of the telescope millions of starry worlds 
rush into sight. Thus with each new endow- 
ment for the soul, new ranges of the world of 
truth and beauty pass before man's vision. 
Here man carries very imperfect instruments 
for knowing. He is but a seed, to be grave- 
planted. That would be but an ignoble im- 
mortality and an impoverished futurity that 
man could understand. Even the poet, the 
sage and the seer discern but hints and gleams 
of the infinite truth and beauty awaiting all. 
Happily for us, the future of our race is incon- 
ceivably beyond anything man can discern by 
the utmost strength of reason or imagination. 
Man is a bi- world creature. Certain flowers 
are biennial; they grow all summer, but the 

Foregleams of Immortality 

falling snows find no sign of blossom. Oarry 
these bulbs over winter, transplant them in the 
spring, and the second summer will reveal 
their real nature and beauty. It is the uni- 
versal testimony of reason and experience that 
life is too short for man's unfolding. Three- 
score years and ten are barely sufficient for de- 
veloping skill in the carriage of the body. 
This life avails for the drill of reason, memory 
and judgment; all the rest of man's forty and 
more faculties must wait. The climate here is 
too unfriendly and the summers too short for 
their unfolding. But from the noblest speci- 
mens of the great and good we may gain some 
faint intimation of their possibilities hereafter: 
Shakespeare, disclosing fruition of reason only 
germinal in others; Webster or Burke, indicat- 
ing the skill with which all are to think and 
speak; Howard and Livingstone and Lincoln, 
revealing the heroism possible to all. But the 
vast majority end their career disappointed, 
marred, mutilated, defeated. Shelley makes 
the multitudes to be "shipwrecked into life." 
Others are also shipwrecked out of existence. 
Fulfilling such a career, men are buoyed up on 

Foretokens of Immortality 

the hope of immortality. A distinguished 
statesman has said : • • Take away from society 
the belief in a personal immortality, and it may 
be doubted whether free institutions would sur- 
vive two centuries." 

When Paul recalled his career of suffering 
and the years during which he had been 
mobbed, stoned and flogged through life, he 
said that ■ • were there no hope beyond he would 
be of all men the most miserable." But that 
which was a personal fact in his experience is 
generic, holding true of all the race. Nothing 
so cheap as man. The millions live upon the 
edge of want. Dying, each tool and place is 
spoken for. Two mouths wait hungrily for 
every crust. Our race blunders and struggles 
through its career. Life is like the march of 
an army; it is attended by tremendous losses, 
many falling through heat and thirst, many 
through sickness and exhaustion. Untold 
millions die having fashioned no tool, per- 
fected no law. added no incitement to virtue. Sir 
Walter Scott's last entry in his journal reads: 
- ' "We slept reasonably, but on the next morn- 
ing " Thus death breaks off the sentence 


Foregleams of Immortality 

of man's career. How incomplete and pathetic 
would life be for the millions without immor- 
tality! Society holds on its way despite life's 
defeats and pains and glooms because it believes 
that " on the next morning" it will enter into 
eternal light and infinite love. 

Jesus Christ everywhere assumes immortal- 
ity. He seems deeply conscious of the great 
over- world ; it ever lies before His mind like a 
noble landscape familiar and seen since birth. 
By reason of that vision splendid, men toiling 
below the sky seemed to Him only laborious 
triflers. But what was unconscious knowledge 
with Him comes to us by slow processes. 
From the day when Socrates and Plato and 
Cicero defended their faith in immortality it 
has been the duty of each man to marshal his 
arguments and set in order his proofs. Chris- 
tianity asks no man to take anything for 
granted. Everything is to be tested in reason's 

Passing in review, therefore, the arguments 
of philosophers, poets and seers with those of 
Jesus Christ, the reflective mind notes the pre- 
sumptions, structural and constitutional, in 

Foretokens of Immortality 

man. Consider the fact of self-identity. Yon 
are the same person you were twenty years ago. 
Yet the physiologists insist that you have had 
several bodies during this score of years. Even 
the bone system has been thrice replaced. But 
life taxes the brain so severely that its fibre 
is replaced twice each year Recalling the 
events of to-day and yesterday, men also 
recall the faces, landscapes and events of three- 
score years ago. A distinguished lawyer once 
said that while in the midst of an argument, 
and under great mental excitement, there 
began to rise before his mind the pages of 
a legal decision he had read thirty years 
before. Slowly the dim and misty lines 
grew clear; at length he read them with per- 
fect distinctness. Surely, in this event memory 
was no physical scar Doubtless that which was 
unique in his experience exists in germ form in 
us all. The "I" gives unity to our knowl- 
edges and experiences. Self-identity gathers 
up all past life. Having survived the changes 
of many brains and half a score of physical 
bodies, the soul begins to nourish the hope 
that it may survive the body altogether, cast- 
ing it off like a worn-out garment. 

Foregleams of Immortality 

Reason finds a foretoken of immortality in 
the contrast between the growth of material 
things and that of the mind. When a tree 
fulfills leafage, flowers and fruit, it touches 
the limit of its being. Its end is fulfilled; 
growth can achieve nothing more. But all 
this has its absolute contradiction in the mind. 
Not even of the ripest scholar can it be said 
that reason has touched its limit and exhausted 
its capacity. Contrariwise, each new discov- 
ery, each new invention, does but prophesy 
other achievements and nobler acquirements. 
To-day's goal is only the starting-point for a 
new journey to-morrow. Nor can it escape our 
thought that an ever-growing vine or oak would 
be an infinite calamity. Channing says : ' ' One 
tree endowed with unlimited expansion would 
come to overshadow the nations, exclude every 
other shrub, and exhaust the world's fertility." 
For reasons of utility, therefore, the growth of 
birds and beasts and shrubs must be limited. 
But no such necessity holds the mind. Burke 
can take all knowledge for his province and in 
nowise exclude Webster. Michael Angelo was 
equally great as architect, sculptor, artist and 

Foretokens of Immortality 

poet. Yet each new intellectual achievement 
did but stimulate and nourish the great minds 
about him. Macaulay at last developed such 
skill in acquiring languages that in six weeks 
he mastered Italian, read its great writers, 
and began his critique on Dante. Similarly, 
Sir William Jones mastered thirty languages, 
and thought a single three months sufficient 
for a new dialect. The more the mind acquires 
the more it can acquire. Nature says to all: 
"To him that hath it shall be given." Each 
new form of thought or virtue or philanthropy 
does but double the possibilities for self and 
others. When the mind goes abroad for sur- 
veying the universe it comes back with the re- 
flection that the world was built for limiting 
and ending the body, but for continuing and 
forever nourishing the mind with the heart 
and conscience. 

Socrates was the first to find immortality in 
a certain indestructibility in things. Smite as 
man may, he can destroy nothing. The coal 
burns, but its ash and smoke precisely equal 
the original bulk. Each petal dropping from 
the flower does but make the next rose redder. 

Foregleams of Immortality 

Trees fall, but do not perish ; they only take on 
different forms. Fire, wind and water have 
whipped and lashed the atoms from one end of 
the universe to the other. Full oft these poor 
particles may have desired to lie down and die, 
but this boon was forbidden. To-day there is 
not an atom less than at the world's begin- 
ning. Now, Watt's thought, that builds an en- 
gine, is inconceivably greater than the raw iron 
it organized. Yet the mind exhales ideas 
as the sun emits light. Should all man's 
thoughts be recorded there would be a volume 
for each day, a shelf filled for each month, a 
library for each year. Is all this heart treas- 
ure to perish when atoms are made to persist? 
No sage nor scientist can give his mental treas- 
ure over to his child through heredity. The 
seer's wisdom perishes with him, and his babe 
must begin where its father did — at nothing. 
Nor is there any racial immortality. The time 
comes when our sun will be a burned-out cinder 
and our planet a dead world. Does God care 
for atoms, and make trees abide though their 
forms change, but bring the heart that laughs 
and weeps and loves and aspires to that end 

Foretokens of Immortality. 

called a black hole in the ground ? God-led 
into the world, the soul is God-guided out of 
the world. To live again to-morrow is no more 
wonderful than to have lived at all yesterday. 
In regnant hours the soul scorns proofs and 
despises arguments and exultingly sings: "God 
is; therefore I shall be, f orevermore. " 

A certain irritating force in man seems to 
foretell immortality. All growth is through a 
kind of hidden stimulus. When growth be- 
gins, restlessness overtakes the child. Quie- 
tude becomes impossible. To condemn the lit- 
tle creature to a chair is a form of exquisite 
cruelty. Nature needs fresh blood in the ex- 
tremities for her building processes, and se- 
cures it by pricking the child until it runs and 
jumps. When the period of growth is 
passed the restlessness also passes. Similarly, 
after periods of sickness, with convalescence 
comes restlessness, and this restlessness com- 
pels the exercise needed for health and 
strength. But with old age comes quietude; 
the easy-chair foretells the end. 

A like irritation exists in the mind. A noble 
discontent inaugurates each new epoch for man. 

Foregleams of Immortality 

The soul chafes against its barriers. Sometimes 
this world seems like a tiny garret on a hot 
August night, and the heart will smother un- 
less it finds breathing-room in a larger world. 
In his dungeon in London Tower Sir Walter 
Raleigh could pace but twice his length. Thus 
the soul cries out against the limits of a dun- 
geon life bounded by these walls called the 
cradle and the grave. It asks all the air there 
is between itself and God's throne; it needs 
this room. It wants all the sweep between 
God's throne and the eternities; it is to 
move in this orbit. As the child's restlessness 
stimulates exercise, growth and maturity, so 
the aspirations of the heart are preparations 
for and prophecies of an immortal destiny. 

To-day scientists are interpreting anew the 
instincts in animals and men. Instincts are 
nature's*: prophecies foretelling coming events. 
ThroiFgn them animals guard against possible 
danger and attain happiness and maturity. 
The spider in California builds a large passage 
way to its nest, and, opening therefrom, a se- 
cret passage with a trapdoor. Similarly each 
insect and bird carries some like instinct for 

Foretokens of Immortality 

nature's needs-; and instinct never deceives 
its possessor. When the young lark commits 
itself to the soft air, the receiving medium al- 
ways bears it gently up, while the robin's mi- 
gratory instinct always finds the southern 
clime foretold. We must also reckon with that 
faculty in man looking forward to immortality. 
In vain we ransack all nature for a single in- 
stance in which nature's instincts have de- 
ceived insect or bird. Does nature use so 
great skill for guiding beasts, but become a 
blunderer in guiding man ? Nay, further: 
Does nature, through instinct of what awaits 
them, speak truth to wasps and spiders and 
sparrows, but tell lies to man of what awaits 
him ? If man lives for this world only, then 
God is become a mere purveyor for the body. 
A mother is justified in the disagreeable tasks 
related to her infant by the foresight of what 
the babe will become. And if man is to drop 
his body and hereafter develop his rational 
faculties, G-od's care for the body is justified 
and explained by His foresight of the excel- 
lence to which the mind and heart shall attain 
when time and infinite resources have accom- 

Foregleams of Immortality 

plished their fruition upon the soul. But if 
man's life is limited to the body, then the Cre- 
ator is reduced to an infinite cook and racial 
restaurateur. This theory says that there is 
a God, but that he is a fool God, exhausting 
all his resources in growing pumpkins and 
potatoes for the inside and wool and flax for 
the outside of man's body. This is thinking 
become stupidity and brutishness; it is intel- 
lectually as absurd as it is morally monstrous. 
Science is rapidly reducing doubt of immortal- 
ity into sheer mental vacuity. Our planet is 
one. When the traveler crosses the Hudson 
the laws of light and heat and gravity are the 
same on the New York side as on that of New 
England. God's moral universe is also one. 
Man's life here and there is hemispheric. Cross- 
ing that stream called Death, man moves for- 
ward under the embrace of the laws of intelli- 
gence, self-consciousness and freedom. 

From the presumptions of immortality 
structural in man, reason moves to a higher 
plane of argument, and marks the actual be- 
ginnings of resurrection in the individual. 
Fundamentally, man is mind entombed in flesh. 

Foretokens of Immortality 

His reason is embodied in the grave-clothes of 
matter. Doubtless the grand climacteric fact 
is the complete shaking off of the body. But 
every form of conflict with appetite and pas- 
sion, in which the spirit throws off its bondage 
to the flesh and becomes victorious, is itself a 
partial resurrection. When, after long en- 
tombment, the tulip bursts forth into its full 
blossom, it attains its perfection; but every 
form of secret growth that split off the outer 
bulb and pushed forth the stalk and leaf, was a 
part and prophecy of the final floral outburst. 
Very pitiful oftentimes the struggles of men 
who wrestle with themselves and battle against 
their evil tendencies as for life itself. Every 
man is double, and the lower man grips at the 
very throat of the higher man and spiritual. 
Jugglers bound hand and foot know how to 
shrink their muscles and slip out of the rope or 
fetter. But man is not so skillful in escaping 
his physical thongs. Now and then we see a 
man who, after all the thunder of life's battle, 
stands in life's evening light victorious over 
himself, with nearly all the evil brood of ap- 
petites and passions slain within him. The 

Foregleams of Immortality 

partial conquest of these animal forces here 
foretells the sublime emergence from the body 
hereafter. Each victory now is a morning star 
foretelling the rising sun. God gives partial 
resurrections here as foretokens and first fruits 
of the greater resurrection at death and be- 
yond it. 

The climacteric resurrection in death has its 
forerunner in the sufferings that refine gross- 
ness out of man and redeem him out of a low 
life into a higher. Plato thought the single 
suffering with its exalting uses a foretoken 
of that great death-suffering that forever 
ends all ignorance and sorrow. Pains are 
blows qf the hammer knocking off the 
rough outside of the geode to release 
the beauteous crystals within. Troubles are 
blows lifted upon the dungeon door for giving 
the prisoner release. Sufferings are stamp- 
mills crushing the quartz that the gold may be 
free. Looking forward to the fruit, men plant 
the peach seed. But a thick shell entombs the 
"living germ, nor has the shining of the sun any 
power for letting the plantlet out. Winter 
alone can resurrect the little life out of its seed- 

Foretokens of Immortality 

grave. Therefore cold drives the frost wedges 
into the thick shell and splits it; cracking, 
the seed is rent apart; then the germ hears 
the call of the light and the air, and, rising 
into the realm of sunshine, sets forth upon its 
career. Man, too, is buried in his physical 
life, and suffering comes in to give release and 
resurrection. That which single suffering be- 
gins, the great death-suffering completes, 
giving life and final resurrection. 

These hopes, germinal in man, burst into 
full blossom in Jesus Christ. In Him the in- 
timations of nature and human life cease to 
be cold proofs and become an enthusiasm and 
a faith that comfort and satisfy the heart. 
What a finished statue is to the block of mar- 
ble the resurrection of Christ is to the general 
doctrine of immortality. He wrought immor- 
tality into perfect shape. "We may know," 
says Theodore Munger, " that there is a 
statue in the marble, but how beautiful it may 
be, in what grace of posture it may stand, 
what emblems crown its head, what spirit 
breathes from its features, we do not know un- 
til the inspired sculptor has uncovered his 

Foregleams of Immortality 

ideal and brought it to the light." We see in 
the statue the marble, but we also see the art- 
ist's mind. So in Jesus Christ we see not 
only the fact of immortality, but its special 
meaning and possibility. Nature's proofs 
and foretokens are cold. Nature is beautiful, 
but has no sympathy. She gives her flowers 
alike to bride and to bier. When the poet 
Lowell's heart was well-nigh broken with 
grief, it came to him with a great shock that 
nature had no care for him. "Not a bee 
stints its humming, the sun shines, the leaves 
glisten, the cock-crow comes from the dis- 
tance, and yet but a moment before the most 
immediate presence of God of which we can 
conceive was filling the whole chamber and 
opening arms to suffer the little one to come 
unto Him." But in Jesus Christ God sym- 
pathizes; God sees; God cares. Before Him 
the earth ceaselessly exhales spirits into the 
heavens as the sea its white clouds. But 
going, all move under His convoy and divine 
love. Disappearing, they do not die. As 
they who sail over the seas go down into the 
vessel and for a time disappear from sight, so 

Foretokens of Immortality 

has it been said, ' ' the grave hides for a little 
time, but does not destroy." Thus the grave 
is the shutting of angels' hands, that they 
may safely keep the treasure and convey it to 
the other side. Jesus Christ is the soul's door 
opening into immortality. 

For each Christian heart the Easter morn is 
full of sacred memories, and also has its pledges 
and suggestions. What possibilities does it 
unveil ! Soon the hidden man shall be released 
from the body, that seat of pain and disease; 
that Circe's palace where angels dwell, and 
also demons ; where passions glide darkly, and 
also strike; where vices nest and lusts have 
secret lairs. The soul entombed in a sluggish, 
obese temperament is like an angel doomed to 
draw a plowshare. Therefore a thousand con- 
gratulations to those who have cast off the clog 
and look out of life with winged thoughts. 
Their crowning achievements here are but twi- 
light intimations of the mind's creative force 
there. Even the most notable natures, like 
Plato, Milton, or Bacon, do but suggest the 
vastness and volume of thought possible to all 
under higher conditions. It is only when we se- 

Foregleams a." Immortality 

lect the superior minds with the strongest fac- 
ulty in each — the poet, the thinker, the 
philosopher, the universal genius in execu- 
tion — and melt all these glorious gifts into 
one new and nobler being, that we perceive 
the full - orbed man who is to come. What 
possibilities, too, of friendship and affection 
does immortality open up! No force for good 
like personal force. Here, indeed, man must be 
guarded against and parried; here men strike, 
men pursue, men blight, men destroy. But 
what if each man stood over against his fellow 
for stimulus, balm, and bounty ? What if 
drawing near to a friend was like approaching 
a star that blazes and sparkles with ten thou- 
sand effects ? How rude is friendship here; how 
stunted is human love! It grows only as oak 
or evergreen in arctic regions. There the tree 
rises but a few inches from the ground, but 
carried south it springs full two hundred feet 
into the heavens. Embowered there it prefig- 
ures that volume of love to which all shall some 
day come. To those on whom life's burdens 
rest heavily, defeated, despoiled, homesick for 
those who have gone, comes this hope of im- 

Foretokens of Immortality 

mortality. Believe him who said u death is 
sweet as flowers are; death is as beautiful as a 
bower in June." The grave is like the gate in 
the old cathedral — iron on one side and beaten 
gold on the other. Perhaps our gravestone is 
a gate for those whom we have loved and lost. 
We say, ' ; A man is dead;" God says, "A man 
lives." Dying is transformation. Dying is 
home-going, happiness, and the Father's House. 



" There is, I "know not how, in the minds of men a 
certain presage, as it were, of a future existence, and 
this takes the deepest root and is most discoverable 
in the greatest geniuses and most exalted souls." — 

"My general wish on earth has been to do my 
Master's will. That there is a God, all must acknowl- 
edge. I see Him in all these wondrous works. Him- 
self how wondrous ! What would be the condition of 
any of us if we had not the hope of immortality? 
What ground is there to rest upon but the Gospel ? 
There were scattered hopes of the immortality of the 
soul, especially among the Jews. The Romans never 
reached it; the Greeks never received it. There 
were intimations crepuscular twilight; but, but, but 
God, in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, brought life and 
immortality to light." — Daniel Webster, on his death- 

When Rufus Choate took ship for that port where 
he died, a friend said: "You will be here a year 
hence." "Sir," said the great lawyer, "I shall be 
here a hundred years hence, and a thousand years 

"Immortality is the glorious discovery of Chris 
tianity. "—Clianning. 

" The sad memories which death brings are a part of 
our education. Under the influence of an absent 
soul the heart softens, and man goes forth each day 
more of a friend to his race, and more of a worshiper 
of his God. Sorrow must ennoble duty, not end it. 
The death of a friend exalts those who ~emain to 
weep." — David Siving. 

Immortality and Life's Withheld 

TN EVERY age the master* minds have be- 
lieved in immortality. For the sons of genius 
and liberty the soul is cosmical, not planetary. 
Immortality seems an infinite invitation up- 
ward. In Tennyson and Browning the spring 
tides of life run so deep and strong; for Emer- 
son and Lowell life is so full of laughter and 
songs and sighs, so full of struggle and vic- 
tory, that hope expands the handful of years 
into immortality. Call the roll of the great 
names of history, and each inspirational na- 
ture will contribute some testimony to faith, 
akin to Wordsworth's "Ode to Immortality." 
In these children of beauty and culture hope 
vaults forward like a rainbow into the deep 
future; no great poet cares one whit be- 
cause the archangel's wing is not strong 
enough to return and report what lies at the 
end of hope's beauteous bow. 

Foretokens of Immortality 

As those who dwell inland from the coast 
ever hear the muffled sound of the distant sea, 
so he who lingers long o'er Hamlet or Lear 
will hear unceasingly the waves of the infinite 
sea breaking upon the eternal shores. Each 
Dante and Milton also shows us sky rising 
above sky, and heaven overarching heaven, 
even as one star rides high above another star. 
Upon his raft of reason Socrates sailed down 
the river of life, and when the night fell and 
the ocean heaved dimly in the vast dark, with 
a tranquil face he put boldly out and sailed the 
sea with God alone toward that eternal conti- 
nent where light is ever constant beyond 
earth's gloom. With like faith Plato looked 
forward unto that realm where earth's 
exiles shall be disentangled from the toils of 
ignorance and sin. Not even an atheistic edu- 
cation availed for extirpating in John Stuart 
Mill the faith of personal immortality. After 
all life's fierce conflicts with doubts and ques- 
tions, a remnant hope still survives in each 
Greg and Mill, and this fact witnesseth to im- 
mortality far more strongly than does faith in 
some believing Browning. In great men im- 

Immortality and Life's Withheld Completions 

mortality is reason prophesying. The hope of 
immortal life dies only with a dying God, just 
as the falling planets would mean the falling 
of the central sun. 

Emerson profoundly says: "When the 
Maker of the universe has points to carry in 
His government He impresses His will in the 
structure of minds." Thus, in all the animal 
and vegetable world, the wish of the Creator 
is organized into the created. The maker of 
each loom or press accompanies his mechanism 
with a book of directions concerning the tapes- 
try that will be woven or the pages that will 
be printed. In like manner we may logically 
infer that the divine mind will accompany 
each rosebush, each apple tree, each skylark, 
each human heart, with a handbook of direc- 
tions called instincts and automatic forces. 
Now nature has fulfilled this expectancy. No 
rosebush is ever left in doubt as to whether 
it should bear red blossoms or thorns and 
thistles. To each young bird there comes a 
secret voice, bidding it trust its weight to un- 
tried wings and soft air. Through the bound- 
less sky also the inner voice guides the water- 

foretokens of Immortality 

fowl in certain flight. Obeying these voices, 
the fish swims, the bee hives its sweets, the 
bird builds its nest. Having never once been 
deceived by these secret instincts, the vege- 
table and animal realm attain the end of their 
being and fulfill their destiny. From these 
instincts in the creature science learns how to 
interpret the plan of the Creator. Each 
Agassiz returns from his survey of the world 
with the feeling that his hopes are God's writ- 
ten guaranties of immortality. 

It is as if all nature had broken into voice 
and through the soul uttered her "everlasting 
yes." He who meets the bird's wing with air 
that bears it up, the fish's fin with water that 
yields to its movement; he who meets the eye 
with sunlight and beauty, the ear with sweet- 
ness and melody, hunger with bread and thirst 
with flowing springs, hath filled the soul also 
with hunger for immortal life, with thirst for 
eternal love. At times this hunger becomes 
so great that man could stretch up his hands 
and "eat the planets like small cakes;" his 
thirst is so deep that the earth itself is but a 
small cup for the soul to drink in. Did God 

Immortality and Life's Withheld Completions 

give man this infinite hunger only to find after- 
ward that his generosity had involved Him in 
penury, so making it impossible to furnish man 
with bread wherewith to satisfy his hunger? 
This would make the Infinite to be either pov- 
erty stricken or a moral monster. Here millions 
die in ignorance and millions in sin. The joy 
of one heart is marred by the anguish of 
another; the wealth and beauty of one street 
by the pathetic poverty and shame of another; 
the music of one voice is destroyed by the 
moans of another. But God doth tempt all 
men upward toward the heavenly heights with 
dreams of a land whose clime is eternal spring, 
whose air is perpetual music, whose life is end- 
less joy. These aspirations are liens upon im- 
mortal life. They are stepping-stones that 
"slope through darkness up to God." Out of 
them science and faith are building a new 
heaven and a new earth. 

Human life is a colossal enigma without im- 
mortality. The hypothesis of a future life 
alone can explain man's troubles and solve 
his mysteries. The inequalities of society baffle 
all intellects. Bad men rise to the throne, 

Foretokens of Immortality 

the good are forced to the wall. Tyrants dwell 
in kings' palaces, heroes starve in dungeons. 
Often vice wears purple and fine linen; some- 
times virtue eats crusts and wears rags. When 
Dante was denied his vine and fig tree, wicked 
princes drove in chariots from palaces in the 
city to villas in the country. "Why is it the 
heroes of liberty and religion have been hunted 
like partridges tvpon the mountains? Tiberius 
flung his victims over the precipice into the sea. 
Nero lighted up his gai'dens with blazing mar- 
tyrs. But these tyrants lived on to the end in 
splendor, and died on soft rosebeds, as did the 
murderers of Socrates. Meanwhile, where are 
the patriots of liberty whose lives were one 
long struggle against tyranny and oppression? 
Where are your fathers, who sleep at Shiloh 
and Gettysburg, where the hillsides are all 
billowy with graves? What about that mound 
in the forests of Africa where Livingstone 
fell? If death ends all, what compensation 
had Savonarola and William the Silent and 

The inequalities of mind and heart are 
greater, Oliver Twist, living in Fagin's den, his 


Immortality and Life's Withheld Completions 

teachers thieves, his trade crime, his only edu- 
cation gained in the school of iniquity, gives 
us pause; but Oliver Twist stands for multi- 
tudes of orphan boys in every city. Our phys- 
ical atmosphere is laden with soot and smoke. 
No statue in the park but is blackened. No 
picture on the wall but holds some grime. 
Every marble in the gallery has some black 
dust on the white forehead. Thus man's moral 
world is full of ignorance and sin. Every mind 
hath suffered some injury, and every heart is 
heavy with some pain. Trouble is big with 
mystery. Against its granite wall in vain we 
strike our black and bleeding forehead. Than 
Job none hath done more to solve it. If this 
is all, then for the multitude suicide is life's 
chiefest boon. But what if death brings com- 
pensation, and beyond, all wrongs may be right- 
ed? Beholding in the perfected race the fruit» 
age of their toil, the patriot and martyr will find 
in their continued life the explanation of life's 
every ill. 

If man be immortal, his ideals and aspira- 
tions, unfulfilled here, may be realized here- 
after. In imagination, every plan is complete 

Foretokens of Immortality 

and every ideal perfect. Each purpose hangs 
before the mind's eye like a heavenly vision. 
But the ideals suffer grievously in the work of 
embodiment. By the time the plan has passed 
through man's mind and been formulated, it is 
crippled and sadly disfigured. Beethoven tells 
us his polished symphony is but an empty 
echo of the heavenly music he heard in his 
dream. The generations have gazed enrap- 
tured upon Raphael's Sistine Madonna. But 
the artist painted it with anxious face and left 
it with troubled and disappointed heart. Try 
as he would, the painting, as we see it, is only 
an attempt to reproduce the vision Raphael 
saw, but could not fully realize upon the can- 
vas. What poet or prophet ever fully uttered 
all his dreams ? "What philanthropist ever 
realized all his reforms ? What statesman 
ever overtook his ideals ? Does not each new 
discovery open a thousand new and hitherto 
unsuspected possibilities for the inventor ? 
Dying at ninety years of age, Humboldt was 
still an eager student. Feeling that he had 
just begun to learn how to study, the great 
naturalist exclaimed : £ ' Oh, for another one 

hundred years ! " 


Immortality and Life's Withheld Completions 

But what if there is another life ? If Hum- 
boldt here thought through gross nerves and 
brain, what if there he thinks through fine 
ether ? What if Beethoven has completed the 
chords broken and interrupted here ? What 
if Socrates has finished the argument inter- 
rupted by the jailer's hemlock, and justified 
the ways of God, to Critias ? The canvas 
Raphael painted has endured for three centu- 
ries. But has God ordained that the canvas 
shall be preserved while the artist has fallen 
into dust? Is "In Memoriam " more than 
Tennyson ? Is St. Paul's cathedral moi'e than 
Sir Christopher Wren, its architect ? Is the 
leaf to live, while the tree dies ? Reason and 
conscience whisper, it can not be. If thoughts 
live, the thinker can not die. To suppose that 
death ends all is intellectually as absurd as it 
is morally monstrous. Because God lives, His 
children shall live also. 

The immortal life furnishes the explanation 
of the early dying of those from whom society 
has the right to expect the most of good. The 
list of illustrious ones whose star sank back to 
the horizon before it had approached its zenith, 

Foretokens of Immortality 

is long and sad. At twenty-two, Keats knew 
that he must die, and wrote his epitaph: 
"Here lies one whose name is writ in water." 
And Shelley, his friend, whose soul, rising, 
poured forth sweet notes, like the skylark of 
which he sang, died when only thirty. 
Mozart died at thirty-six; Raphael at thirty- 
seven; Burns before he was thirty-eight. No 
man in all his generation had a clearer vision, 
or promised more for his age, than Frederick 
W. Robertson. Dying at thirty-seven, the 
scholar-preacher exclaimed: "It is all a 
mystery. Man is like a candle blown out by a 
puff of wind." In a single week after Fort 
Sumter was fired upon the colleges of our land 
stood silent; deserted all their classrooms. 
When several years had passed the rooms had 
filled again, but not with the old students ! 

Pathetic, also, is the death of the ten-talent 
minds, to fame and fortune all unknown. Sev- 
eral years ago some one clipped a little poem 
from an obscure country paper and sent it to 
a great magazine. Scholars read it with de- 
light. An inquiry for its author was insti- 
tuted. This poem, bearing the mark of genius, 


Immortality and Life's Withheld Completions 

proved to have been written by a boy — a sec- 
tion hand upon the railway ; and he was dead. 
This we know — no more. Why did the harp 
break after the first song was sung? Why 
died that noble boy, Arthur Hallam, whose 
genius promised so much for English litera- 
ture? Young Charles Emerson rose above 
Harvard College like a rising sun. If that sun 
perished when it disappeared, what signified 
its rising? Angels have entered our homes — 
"their footprints graves." Departing with 
them have gone our dear ones who were best 
fitted to live. 

The "InMemoriam" reminds us that the 
"forbidden builders" are a great multitude. 
With long life, from them there was nothing, 
nothing we might not have expected. Glad- 
stone is 88, but his voice hath not lost 
its charm. Pope Leo is 87, and his mind 
still hath its cunning. Bismarck is 82, 
but his iron will and purpose are still potent. 
Had Robertson and Shelley and Arthur Hallam 
and all these children of genius lived to 80 and 
beheld the golden setting of life's sun, what 
treasure might have come to our generation! 

Foretokens of Immortality 

If death is all, then is folly chargeable upoii 
the universe, But if life goes on beyond the 
grave, if these royally endowed ones continue 
their creative work under new and higher con- 
ditions, if there Raphael's best work awaits our 
admiring vision, if Keats and Charles Emerson 
are singing there, then physical death ceases 
to be an absurdity and becomes the highest 
wisdom. "With Tennyson let us believe that 
the task, incomplete here, will be completed 
hereafter by "the divinely gifted man." 

The withheld completions of life also ask for 
immortality. Life is full of wrecks and failures. 
The march of a generation is like the march 
of Alaric's army leaving their cold forest home. 
The forest children turned their faces toward 
the sunny land of Rome. In the forward march 
of the Teutons, boys and girls fell by the way- 
side, overcome by heat; parents fell through 
hunger and exhaustion ; wounded soldiers were 
constantly dropping out of the column, to 
die in the thicket, unmissed and uncared for. 
Thus there are myriads who end their career 
having lived indeed three score years and 
ten without having fulfilled life. The larva 

Immortality and Life's Withheld Complewms 

eats its way out of its cradle, consumes 
the leaves upon the bough and falls back 
into dust. Thus whole tropic races live 
only an animal life, using the mind to gain 
supplies for the body. They were born, they 
ate, they died — this is their history. With 
others failure is ancestral. A hundred years 
ago the weapon that wounded them started 
upon its way. Many, through a single mis- 
take, have wrecked life and happiness. A 
traveler crossing some mountain pass may in- 
deed fulfill a thousand right steps, but by one 
hour of carelessness slip upon the precipice and 
henceforth go crippled, and by one error some 
have overthrown a thousand deeds of upright- 

Others pass their early life in districts re- 
mote from knowledge and wisdom, and only in 
middle life discover their power. These rude 
and undeveloped ones are like geodes — out- 
wardly they are rude and rough, inwardly 
they hold flashing crystals. Some end their 
career wholly unrecognized by those who walk 
through life beside them. As in the west- 
ern prairies men plow and plant their harvests 

Foretokens of Immortality- 
over veins of coal lying hidden and unsus- 
pected; as in far- western mountains men build 
their cabins over hidden veins that hold fabu- 
lous wealth were they discovered, so some men 
complete life and fall on death never knowing, 
never dreaming that talent and skill were 
latent in them, like undigged treasure. 

Some there are who, if this life ends all, 
are indeed most miserable, in that they have 
involved in grievous suffering those dearest 
to them. How pathetic these moral incomple- 
tions! When the thunder-bolt smites the tree 
in the forest, it also blackens the beauteous 
vines and flowers that wrap it round. 
Sometimes when society visits its scorching 
penalties upon the wrongdoer it also smites 
the innocent mother or wife or child. 

The most piteous part of those letters that 
come from Mexico and foreign climes, whither 
men have fled from the consequences of their 
evil deeds, is their consciousness of suffering 
brought upon the innocent wife or mother. 
That in injui'ing himself, the wrongdoer has 
blighted other lives, lends agony to agony 
itself, adds poignancy to deepest pain. And 

Immortality and Life's Withheld Completions 

oh! with what desire do such men be- 
seech God for an opportunity of retrieving 
their errors and sins ! In the best, goodness 
is only germinal. Men go toward death 
stored with latent faculties and forces, just as 
our winter-bound earth goes toward May — 
stored with myriad germs and seeds, waiting 
for summer to unlock and send them forth to 
bud and blossom and fruitage. There are unex- 
plored riches in the human constitution. What 
is man ? No one knows. Many of his faculties 
exist in him like unwrapped tools in a box — 
not even examined, much less named. Three 
or four of his forty faculties ask threescore 
years for development — the other latent 
powers ask an immortal life for growth beyond 
the grave. 

If, therefore, death ends all, life is robbed 
of its dignity and deeper meanings. Man 
spends seventy years toiling upon his indus- 
tries, his arts, his books, his friendships. 
Each achievement in character is a victory 
after a fierce battle. In our world wisdom 
never comes unasked, and no virtue stays 
unurged. Character in man is like beauty 

Foretokens of Immortality 

in the statue — it asks for infinite pains. 
But no Phidias would toil unceasingly 
upon his Parthenon if he knew that once 
the peerless temple was completed the 
destroyer's hand would pull it down, leaving 
not one stone upon another. Praxiteles would 
hardly have carved his matchless Venus, front- 
ing the certainty that when the finishing 
touches had been given some enemy would lift 
the hammer and break the precious marble 
into a thousand fragments. Our generation 
builds its libraries and galleries, its temples of 
science and religion, in the hope of permanency, 
and sends these structures down as heritages 
to coming generations, even as Henry VII. 
sent Westminster Abbey down to the London 
of our day. 

Thus also the highest motives for culture 
and character come from the thought of per- 
manency and personal existence in a future 
life. Good men cannot abide the thought that, 
dying, they will be unwelcome and unknown 
when they enter the presence of the patriots 
and heroes, the brave and true and great of 
yesterday. The thought that character 

Immortality and Life's Withheld Completions 

achieved not only lends happiness here, but 
happiness and worth hereafter, supports them 
in the long, fierce conflict with ignorance and 
sin. Dignity and honor can hardly attach to 
him who journeys forward toward a black hole 
in the ground. In view of the difficulties that 
confronted Clay and Garfield, in view of their 
days of poverty, their nights of study and 
struggle, the harsh winds that assailed their 
bark; in view of the fact that when death over- 
took them they had scarcely begun to work 
out their dreams, it seems difficult to believe 
that the brief and fragmentary success 
achieved in this life was worthy the heavy price 
they paid. 

We joyfully confess there is more happiness 
in virtue than in vice, in culture than in igno- 
rance. But if man builds a house just in time 
to die and have his body carried out of it; if he 
gives himself to unceasing study, to find that 
threescore and ten years avail only for gather- 
ing a single handful of flowers from each gar- 
den, a single cluster from each of earth's many 
vineyards; if he founds a business only to dis- 
cover that the outlay of strength means that 

Foretokens of Immortality 

the business must pass into other hands; if he 
loves and is loved, binding and being bound 
with hooks of steel, only to find that all dear 
ones must be torn from his arms — if this is all, 
is man more than the insect of an afternoon ? 
Has life's game been worth the candle ? It is the . 
immortal realm that lends life its exalted 
meanings and messages. Let us believe with 
Tennyson, that man is supported here by the 
hope that " life shall live f orevermore. " 

To-day science is uniting with faith to 
strengthen the argument for immortality.- . 
Gone forever the age when science denies the'/ 
future life ! No scholar is more distinguished ' : 
than Professor Pope, who says: "He who, 
believes personal immortality is unscientific 
believes on insufficient evidence." In view of 
physical phenomena as yet unaccounted for; in 
view of thought transference, mental sugges- 
tion and telepathy, the great scientists of all ■ 
countries scorn the expression, < ' Brain secretes 
thought as the liver secretes bile," and hold 
that as now the mind uses brain and nervo, it 
may later on use ether. . ' - ' 

Call the roll of the great chemists, physicists 

g Immortality and Life's Withheld Completions 


'.'-. and biologists of Germany and England, and 


"■ almost without exception they are or record as 
: teaching that death does not end all. The 
; - ' preparation of this vast world-house, itsadorn- 
'■*'". .-ment and furnishing by millions of years of 
• v i preparatory work, the development under 
?v divine guidance of man's intellectual and 
..spiritual forces to the end only that man may 
:; 'live an average of three-and-thirty years, turns 
the universe into a riddle without any mean- 
. • ing. Has the world-architect and artist toiled 
•Vfbt nothing? Is man ephemeral, "a bubble 
•that bursts, a vision that fades?" A thou- 
» sfa-ftd times nay ! answers that new science 
: ■ .represented by John Fiske. "I believe in the 
i&nnortality of the soul,'' says the scholar, 
;.;..'<'' mot in the sense in which I believe in the 
r. demonstrable truths of science, but as a su- 
preme act of faith in the reasonableness of God's 
wbrk. " 
The old skeptical science is becoming obso- 
.-' if te._ Atheism has gone into bankruptcy again. 

Mature has ceased to be a rival of God. The 
*■• . 

reverse is only the physical body through 

, u'hxch God works. Nature as a self -sufficing 

-'--\ :'.i i-i---. 

r^;^ — rizzm ""~ ~ l ~ * 5 "iris. •Z'-: — v raters 

^ -r : -_ — : ■_ 1 

z.~r-- ; i Secxetarj 

Az.2 ::: -^~ :::ri:^ perceives t 
■nd i. ;- :ir'i:i.:~= in :ir mind are Eat 
ttsf nmsf be interpreted and aeec 

In. zr. i- M..". ; ----- -- : "■".":.._-.- . . ii'z.r".. ;■:_= 

vale between Qb£ Bold ail :ir:i~ gteake rftwo 

eternities; —-. :rj aJoed ttr :r_lT an:"^ t: Ls "ib? 
eclac :: afnrwalliog ery, represents in popular 
form :':i old Bcienifciifc scholarship. But the 

r.e~ £.::^~:.t laughs all it-My crude culture. Only 
~r7T ignorant people 3&1 hz^r'.-^z^- s.2>~. iX We 

Tiirs ever z:: :f its glaniiaooE folded nj ils 
stature aadwenl baelk k an infant i»:-:n. Nc 

per fee the new-born babe the experiences :: 
his supert ::T;i;,il manhood Nature whis- 
pers tot each babe. "The sage and seer may 

nojt refaina fcc vou but von ~it r~ ~,~ ~ ~ -— • 
Nature whlspsre k each artist pnjaL -Yrur 
Master may not return k you: but youmaygo 
:■: lis =iif " "r. s."J the realm :: field i~i 

unripeness in rrirr tc become the instructor 
::' cruieues-i aui rawness If 3 c'uius.uui 

irsiiturlrus :■: 3, babe, the going back would 


Foretokens of Immortality 

avail nothing. The babe must go -up to Lin^ 
coin's level to understand his message. Only 
a sage can understand a sage ! Only a seer 
can understand a seer ! Man must go up add- 
ing sense to sense, and faculty to faculty, in 
order to attain scientific demonstration of the 
future life. 

From these intimations of immortality na- 
ture asks each to weave in one cumulative ar- 
gument a chain that may not be broken. Mathe- 
matical proof may not be possible for every 
mind. That man should live again is not so 
strange as that man should live at all. Now that, 
the steam engine has been invented it is easy 
to foretell its continuance. Newton's mind is 
more than the clod beneath his feet. But Nep- 
tune is only many clods brought together. It 
is inconceivable that the great God gi-ants an 
orbit of millions of years to that wintry clime 
and clod called Neptune, but gives Newton, 
the philosopher, whose mind squeezes the planet 
for truth as the hand squeezes an orange, a 
career of but threescore years and ten. In- 
credible the thought that God makes the 
"Principia" to endure, but permits its author 

to fall into dust. 


Immortality and Life's Withheld Completions 

When a benefactor has bestowed a thousand 
favors upon some youth, and so carries himself 
te to imply another gift, it would be an act of 
supreme meanness to doubt the continued kind- 
ness of the benefactor. The noble mind and the 
generous heart will trust God for the larger 
hope. God lures the soul forward by filling it 
with dreams of a land where rude speech has 
become eloquence; where the misshapen face 
gives place to lustrous beauty; where the one- 
talent man shall go on toward supremest 
genius ; where, like the tree of life, each mind 
shall bear fruit every month ; where music is 
marred by no discord; where all love all and 
all serve all; where life means growth, power, 
maturity, beaut)'' ; where the sorrows and woes 
of hero and patriot and parent shall hang on 
the walls of memory like the shields of van- 
quished enemies. This is the immortal life 
and the eternal love that Christ hath brought 
to light. As at the northern cape the mid- 
night sun sinks below the horizon only to 
flash up again in the dawn of a new day, so 
man dies that he may live again. Man is 
God's child. Man is immortal, because God is 




" There can no evil befall a good man, whether he 
be alive or dead." — Socrates. 

"Where I listen, music; and where I tend, bliss 
forever. " — Browning. 

"I came from God, and I am going back to God, 
and I won't have any gaps of death in the middle of 
my life." — George McDonald. 

"I am not afraid to die, but I wish I might carry 
on my work. I have only half used the powers God 
gave me." — Theodore Parker, on his death-bed, to 
Francis Power Cobhe. 

' ' Ah Christ, that it were best 
For one short hour to see 
The souls we loved, that they might tell us 
What and where they be." 

— Tennyson. 

"The prize is noble and the venture is great." — 

" The body of Benjamin Franklin (like the cover of 
an old book, its contents torn out, and stripped of its 
leather and gilding) lies here food for the worms; yet 
the work itself shall not be lost, for it will, as he 
believes, appear once more in a new and more beau- 
tiful edition, corrected and amended by the Author." 
— Franklin's epitaph, written by himself. 

"I know that my Redeemer liveth." — Jobxix. 25. 

Christ and Immortality 

\ I 7HEN the modern student opens his Cicero 
he is depressed by the gloom that lies 
upon the pages of the orator and scholar. Ac- 
customed to a sunny literature, the modern 
thinker marvels that the fear of dying and 
death makes up so large a part of Cicero's pri- 
vate soliloquy and public writing. The Roman 
lawyer was the first citizen of his day. He 
was the child of genius and of great wisdom 
also. His were honors, public and private; his 
was wealth, with the splendor of the city resi- 
dence and the beauty of the country villa; his 
the friendships of the great. Yet, when his 
beloved daughter Tullia died a gloom fell upon 
the statesman that did never again lift. Over- 
come with grief, Cicero denied himself to all 
friends and retired to the seclusion of his Tus- 
culum villa. But when he opened his books 
his favorite authors failed him — he could not 

Foretokens of Immortality 

see to read for the flood of falling tears 
When Socrates' fearlessness of death and 
Plato's arguments for immortality had failed 
to console him, then Cicero prepared his own 
arguments for immortal life and a readjust- 
ment beyond the grave. But, alas! neither 
literature nor time availed to heal his broken 
heart. The charm had fled from the arbor, the 
glory had gone from landscape and sky, from 
the favorite fountain and the leafy woods. For 
the daughter, Tullia, Death had stolen all 
beauty from the cheek and made her marble 
brow to be of clay. But for the father, Death 
now dimmed the color of gold, withered the 
wreath of fame, made empty the orator's am- 
bition. Gone forever the zest of life! Each 
task seemed unworthy its toil. "Death may 
come to-day," said Cicero. "It is always 
hanging over us like the stone over Tantalus. " 
Among the ancient worthies not Cicero alone 
suffered a tragic career through fear of dying 
and death. Recent excavations in the lands of 
the Parthenon and of the Pyramids tell us that 
the civilization of the ancients clustered about 
the tomb rather than about the temple. What 

Christ and Immortality 

a revelation of ancient life is found in the 
grottoes of the dead uncovered in Mycene 
and Thebes! The coin, the bronze urns, the 
terra cotta, the priceless manuscripts there 
found, tell us that treasures denied the 
living were freely given to the dead. Often- 
times a hovel was the home of the living mem- 
bers of the family, but for the dead was pre- 
pared a polished palace. There, in the sculp- 
tured sepulcher, after the farewell funeral 
feast, the dead were enclosed, their weapons 
by their side, the provisions made ready for 
the journey into the unknown fields, the works 
of some favorite poet lying just at hand — pa- 
thetic proofs these of the immortal hope that 
burned low, indeed, yet has always burned upon 
the altar of the human heart. But each bas-re- 
lief, each stately poem, each page of the philoso- 
pher, was stained black by the terror of dying 
and death Even Homer makes Achilles, 
newly returned from the shades, to say he 
1 ' had rather be the meanest slave on earth than 
king among the dead." Art also shared in 
this degrading fear. So far from the lily being 
the symbol of death, its emblem was the skull 

Foretokens of Immortality 

and crossbones, its color was black, its music 
was the dirge. Looking upon some happy- 
group gathered by the fireside, Death beheld 
the scene as so much ripe grain, and made 
sharp the sickle. Not only did death lend fear 
to man's daily life, but its cold chill stole into 
literature also. It fell like a black bar across 
the sunny pages of each Cicero. 

Doubtless the danger of violent death was 
responsible for some of the gloom of ancient 
literature. In an age when tyrants and despots 
flourished, the philosopher, the statesman and 
the poet were constant invitations for the 
headsman's ax. In that far-off time each king 
had his hired poisoner, his paid assassins. Of 
all that goodly company of great men of whom 
Plutarch wrote, how few died a natural death ! 
Socrates was the crowning glory of Athenian 
civilization. Yet the city fathers voted to kill 
their first citizen with a cup of poison. Caesar 
was at once general, statesman, orator, author. 
One day when he was planning to polish his writ- 
ings into classic form, the daggers of the sen- 
ators stilled his voice and pen. Thrice Cicero was 
the savior of his country's liberty. Grown gray 

Christ and Immortality 

in the service of the people, he hoped to com- 
plete yet another book. One afternoon soldiers 
from Antony entered his garden with a written 
order for his execution. "Strike me," said 
Cicero, " if you think it is right." A minute 
later the head of Eome's greatest orator was 
lying upon the ground. In an age when all 
public speakers and writers were liable to 
brutal execution, men naturally spoke and 
wrote much upon the gloom of dying and 
death. But for whatever reasons, ancient 
books, ancient art, ancient poems, ancient 
life, all unite in the confession that through 
the fear of death men were all their lifetime 
subject to bondage. 

Looking back to the era when the world was 
in its morning time of letters and life, and 
noting that for some reason the solemn and 
threatening voice of tragedy had become the 
prominent note of ancient culture, Macaulay 
has observed that while Christianity has 
changed the face of Europe and won a 
thousand triumphs, ' ' its crowning glory is 
that it has wiped the tears from eyes 
which had failed with wakefulness and sorrow, 

Foretokens of Immortality 

lent celestial visions to those dwelling under 
thatched roofs, and shed victorious tranquillity 
upon those who have seen the shades of death 
closing around them." How different the in- 
fluence of that sepulcher digged in Cicero's villa 
and that tomb opened up in Joseph's garden ! 
If the first brought the eclipse of every joy to 
the orator, Christ looked forwai'd to His death 
as the hour when, having been obscured for 
three-and- thirty years, His sun should break 
through all clouds and shine forth in untroubled 
splendor. Great, indeed, the influence of Tullia 
upon Cicero's life and thought, yet the disci- 
ples suffered a thousandfold greater loss in 
losing their Master. He found them friendless 
fishermen. Taking them to His fellowship, 
upon them He poured all the treasures of earth's 
rarest and most glorious friendship. He found 
them dull and low-flying, and gave them wings 
and aspirations. He found them cold and 
frigid, and lent them warmth and inspiration. 
Daily in His presence what had been latent, 
and in germ, unfolded into bud and fruit 
and flower. After His arrest, His trial and 
pitiless execution, they fled away cowards, 

Christ and Immortality 

skulking into the darkness for hiding-places. 
Yet let us confess that something happened 
within a few days that affected these men 
morally and intellectually in some such a way 
as liquid iron is affected when it is hardened 
into the strength of unyielding steel. Some in- 
fluence transformed these feeblings into men of 
oak and rock, and freed them from bondage to 
the fear of death. If Plato argued, the note of 
conviction stole into the disciples speech. If 
Cicero had doubted, certainty crept into their 
affirmations. If Demosthenes the orator and 
Socrates the philosopher had received death as 
a necessity, these men began to woo death as a 
friend. Freed from the old conceptions that 
made the grave to drip with horrors, that 
counted death an executioner, these men 
welcomed death as a messenger, wearing 
indeed an iron mask without, but having 
within the face of an angel of God. Each 
disciple therefore was ambitious to achieve a 
violent death. Paul looked toward the heads- 
man's ax in Rome; James was hurled from the 
battlements in Jerusalem; Jude was slain by 
the mob; Philip was hanged upon the scaffold; 

Foretokens of Immortality- 
Peter was crucified in Persia; James the less 
was killed in Asia ; Matthew was slain in Abys- 
sinia. They smiled to receive the ascend- 
ing flames, as other men smiled to receive the 
robe of scarlet, or the golden cross that makes 
the knight. Seeking to account for the fact 
that in three centuries Christianity had 
achieved the throne of the Caesars, the Roman 
skeptic declared these disciples conquered 
through the new view of immortality, that 
released them from the fear of dying and of 

Confessedly, Christianity's view of immor- 
tality immediately enhanced the sense of in- 
dividual worth. Not until value attaches to 
man himself will his law, his literature, his 
art, his institutions take on value. If in our 
age man has grown humane, so that drinking- 
fountains are prepared for dogs, and the state 
lifts the shield above the horse, protecting it 
against the cruel scourge, in that far-off time 
human life itself was inconceivably cheap and 
worthless. Ten thousand men were slain in 
the Coliseum during the reign of a single em- 
peror. A philosopher no less eloquent than 

Christ and Immortality 

Cicero defended the awful spectacle. When 
citizens of the better class gave a banquet the 
entertainment was not considered complete 
without a sword-fight that left half a dozen 
slaves dead in the presence of the assembled 
guests. Even Pliny praises the husband who 
celebrated the funeral of his wife with one of 
these bloody spectacles. The modern Siddons 
or Salvini would have failed utterly to please 
those audiences, accustomed to nothing less 
than the sight of mangled bodies. In view of 
the fact that medieval Europe was constructed 
out of the fragments of ancient Rome, a 
scholar has suggested that when the fifteenth 
century made the fagots or the wheel or the 
rack ready for heretics, that age was only con- 
tinuing those Roman games which gave such 
delight before the despotism of politics became 
the despotism of religion. In such an age the 
miserable and the unfortunate were numbered 
by legions. The enemies of happiness were so 
numerous and so powerful that suicide became 
a popular resort. In the morning the general 
put on his short sword, so that in the event of 
bad news from the army he might fall upon 

Foretokens of Immortality 

his weapon. Also the citizen thrust his dag- 
ger into his belt. If the day brought bad for- 
tune, a way of escaping the sorrows of the 
forum or the market-place was always near at 

In such an age slaves opened the furrow, 
slaves carried the sheaves into the shocks, 
slaves had charge of the wine press, slaves 
also quarried the marble; under the master's 
direction slaves carved the statue. The city, 
with its homes and streets, its fountains, its 
parks, represented the toil of slaves. The 
master lay upon the couch while the slave 
wrote down his thoughts. Later on he rested 
from the grievous toil of listening to a beauti- 
ful poem, while the slave went for some ice to 
cool his lordship's spiced wine. Under such 
conditions master and slave alike suffered ar 
inconceivable degradation. The justice and 
self-respect that make civilization great 
were threatened with utter destruction. The 
rights of the master were keenly felt; the 
rights of the man were undreamed of. When, 
then, it was asserted that the soul was immor- 
tal, that each slave bore two worlds in his 

Christ and Immortality 

heart, that in a second life the master's in- 
justice and cruelty would have its reward, 
and the bravery and moral coui*age of each 
Epictetus their rich recompense, a great change 
began to be felt. It was as if spring had 
released the icy fetters of winter. A soft 
warmth stole away the rigor of cruelty. Iron 
laws became gentle. Since the wrongs done 
here would be righted hereafter, the scourge 
fell from the hands of the despot. Looking 
unto that immortal shore, men saw the flag of 
equality unfurled above prince and peasant 
alike. There all outer trappings were seen to 
have fallen away. He who here was on the 
throne and robed in purple was there, perhaps, 
seen to have been abominable. He who here 
dwelt in a hovel and knew neglect, there, per- 
haps, stood nearest unto God's angels. Im- 
mortality greatly enhanced the sense of indi 
vidual worth. 

Christ's idea of immortality- also made a 
powerful assault upon the vices of society. No 
age has been unacquainted with immorality, 
yet during the age of Cicero the generations 
went thundering into evil courses like hordes 

Foretokens of Immortality 

of wild beasts, unrestrained and irrestrain- 
able. The pictures upon clay tablets and the 
bronze vases found in Pompeii and Herculaneum 
tell us that in those cities vices were once 
worshiped that now make horrible the very 
name of Sodom and Gomorrah. In temples 
also sins were crowned with chaplets of flowers 
that are now outlawed by society. When his 
master tied Epictetus to a post, and with a 
lever twisted his leg and made the sufferer a 
cripple for life, no one thought of punishing 
the rich man for his cruelty to the slave, who 
also was one of earth's great philosophers. 
Even in Plato's day, in the city of art and elo- 
quence, mothers exposed their children under 
the law by which ' ' he who claimed the child 
might hold it as a slave forever. " When Seneca 
and Lucian affirm that virtue was unknown in 
the Roman empire of their day they tell us that 
vice and sin had injured the cottage and palace 
alike, as the storm never can injure the store- 
house and granary. The generation that be- 
lieved death ended all went rioting through 
life, trampling down sweetness and innocence 
as the wild boar tramples down rosebuds or 

Christ and Immortality 

lifts its tusks upon the perfumed shrubs. But 
when Christ asserted that the good men do 
lives after them, that God will bring every 
work into judgment with every secret thing, 
that in the day of revealing, in the presence of 
neighbors and kindred, every deed is to be 
traced through society as a seed is traced to 
its wide-spreading harvest, then vice and sin 
were assaulted in their secret strongholds. 
From that hour immorality began to wane. 
Vices hitherto recognized became matters of 
public shame. Crimes that had crawled like 
serpents through the streets of the city were 
either scotched or killed. The fact that of all 
the ancient vices drunkenness and social evil 
alone have come down to our day is a powerful 
argument for the influence of Christ's idea of 
immortality exerted upon the vices of society. 
The immortal hope has also strengthened 
man against the woes and wrongs of life. In 
every age man has known misfortune. 
Blights blast man's harvests, storms wreck his 
ships, his house burns up, his bridge falls 
down, his laws are imperfect, his rulers are 
corrupt, gratitude has failed, and at last old 

Foretokens of Immortality 

age overcomes strength. By reason of the in- 
creased comforts and conveniences our age, by 
way of contrast with that of Cicero, may be 
called " the age of universal happiness." But 
in that era, because man's ignorance was great, 
his unhappiness was great also. Society suf- 
fered woes many and grievous. Not infre- 
quently a newly appointed general signalized 
the event by raising a company of soldiers and 
sailing away to some distant province. In 
that far-off land his soldiers went forth to farm 
out the taxes. They ravaged the village and 
the farmhouse, they swept the very land for 
concealed treasure. When one of these gen- 
erals returned home he brought with him riches 
so vast as to support a series of entertainments 
of which a single dinner cost a modern for- 
tune. Going home at midnight each guest was 
accompanied by a slave who carried the goblet 
or the dishes that appealed to the admiration 
of the friend. In such an age the people 
suffered many woes and wrongs. Poverty 
was extreme. The average family, it is 
believed, had an income of only thirty dol- 
lars a year. The common people also 

Christ and Immortality 

owned no land. For the most part they dwelt 
in hovels. Their clothing- was of coarse hemp. 
He who broke a bone must go through life 
with a crooked limb. The ignorance of sani- 
tation involved fevers and epidemics destruc- 
tive beyond all present knowledge or belief. 
Taxes were exorbitant. Freedom from war 
was almost unknown. Governments also were 
cruel. The courts were the instrument of op- 
pression for the strong. The soldiers fell un- 
noticed in the forest, the sailor sank unknelled 
into the troubled seas. The good and the wise 
after long lives of nobleness entered into pain 
and weariness and oppression through despots. 
We need not wonder that, dwelling amidst 
such conditions, the early writers tell us that 
had men believed that they died as the beasts 
do society would have broken down under its 
weight of trouble. But if men bore up under 
their woes — toiled on in the hope of ultimately 
righting all wrongs and curing all social ills, 
sought to exchange ignorance for the arts, and 
coarseness for noble manners, and achieve prog- 
ress for society— they did all this through 
the foresight of that realm " where the wicked 

Foretokens of Immortality 

cease from troubling and the weary are at 

It was this faith in the immortal life also 
that gave the heroes their conquering courage, 
the reformers their immortal renown. History 
would be robbed of half its splendor without 
the story of the patriots and martyrs who have 
endured, seeing afar off the life and the land 
that are invisible. That man who was stoned 
at Lystra, mobbed at Philippi, beaten with rods 
at Iconium; who endured perils at home and 
perils abroad; who faced a world in arms, and 
at last, with dilating form and kindling face 
and with "the diapason of the sea mingling 
with his speech like noble music unto noble 
words," cried out, "None of these things move 
me," achieved his matchless fame as a hero 
through the foresight of immortal life awaiting 
him. Also the realm invisible supported the 
Waldenses, the Huguenots and the Puritans. 
What if bloody Nero lived in a golden house, 
while Paul was chained in the dungeon of the 
Mamertine prison ! What if Lorenzo dwelt in 
a palace and wore purple, while Savonarola 
dwelt in a garret and ate crusts ! What if the 

Christ and Immortality 

cruel English Queen did make soft and silken 
her nest, while her executioners were drying 
the fagots for Cranmer in his Oxford jail. Be- 
yond, every wrong would be righted, and there 
full justice would be done. If the enemy stills 
the looms of action here, the threads shall be 
taken up hereafter ! If here the patriot is 
lifted upon the cross of slander, there the truth 
shall be fully known ! Because there is a 
readjustment beyond, heroic souls stand out 
like the rock of Gibraltar midst a sea of 
troubles. Sir Galahad, the knight, asked for 
the hardest task and petitioned for the place of 
greatest danger, for he anticipated the hour 
when the knights should return and, assembled 
around King Arthur's round table, should re- 
hearse the deeds of heroism, and receive from 
the King's hand the just recompense of reward. 
If to-day, midst the din and whirl of life, 
society has come to emphasize the inner man- 
hood and character rather than the outer and 
bodily conditions, the new estimate of worth 
is due to the immortal outlook. Since beyond, 
character is the all important thing, here also 
for the sake of personal manhood men have 

Foretokens of Immortality 

made great sacrifices. Urged by his friends 

to polish his writings into perfect form, a 
great scholar exclaimed. -My books and cul- 
ture can wait until that second life," and so 
went on serving men. "Ease can wait," 
said Xavier. toiling for the ignorant. "Pleas- 
ure can wait," said Macdonald, toiling in the 
tenement-house district. "Leisure and com- 
fort can wait," said Arnold Tovnbee, as he 
served the helpless. -Luxury can wait," 
saith a great company, who deny eye and ear 
and outer sense that they may fulfill the 
higher duty. In the coming realm char- 
acter alone is of priceless worth. It is 
the foresight of that revealing day that re- 
strains avarice and enterprise, that rebukes 
ambition and the pride of honor, 

TVe return from our outlook with the thought 
that the vision of the new heaven has made for 
man a new earth. The light falling from the 
heavenly shore hath lent a soft radiance to 
man's earthly life and thought. Handel tells 
us that when he wrote the -Hallelujah Cho- 
rus'" he saw the heavens opened and all the 
angels and the great Sod himself. When death 

Christ and Immortality 

robbed Tennyson of Hallam. bis friend, the 
poet took up the harp of life and. looking to- 
ward the immortal realm, music of unwonted 
sweetness stole over the world. Dying at last, 
he passed away to the music of his own requiem. 
But the vision splendid hath not simply lent 
a new sweetness to music. Because man is 
to live again, he bath hastened to double his 
culture and purify it. to double his art and 
refine it, to ennoble bis laws, to expel coarse- 
ness from bis literature and make it divinely 
beautiful. The immortal outlook has given man 
all great art, all great work, all great character. 
For man goes singing, weeping, aspiring, 
praying through life, journeying not toward a 
grave in the grass, but toward a statelier 
Eden. When the little child, the sweet 
mother, the poet or statesman falls asleep, 
should we look up with Dante we would see : •' a 
divine chariot sweeping through the heavenly 
confines, its pathway well-nigh choked with 



" For love is stronger than death." 

" Love has never denied death, and death will not 
deny love."—//'. M. Alden. 

" I go to prove my soul; 
I see my way as birds their trackless way. 
I shall arrive! What time, what circuit first, 
I ask not; but unless God sends his hail 
Or blinding fireballs, sleet or stifling snow, 
In good time, his good time, I shall arrive. 
He guides me and the bird. In his good time." 

— Browning. 

" Never the spirit was born the spirit will cease to 

be never; 
Never was time it was not; End and Beginning are 

dreams ! 
Birthless and deathless and changeless remaineth 

the spirit forever; 
Death hath not touched it at all, dead though the 

house of it seems ! " 

The Witness of Great Men to Im- 

IN ALL ages reflective minds have brooded 
long over the concealments of Nature and the 
silence of God. Clouds and darkness surround 
God's throne, indeed, but the throne from which 
man doth rule is also girt about with silence 
and mystery. Having carefully concealed 
man's origin and made obscure the beginnings 
of his thought language and morals, Nature 
has passed on to make thick the clouds about 
his tomb. How amazing the fact that the 
poet and the dramatist, in portraying the pro- 
cession of life, must make the sweet mother 
and her babe; all lovers, with their youth and 
beauty; all scholars, with their learning; the 
hero and the patriot, to hasten forward into 
that breathless and worldless mystery called 
the Realm of Death! 

Behind walls of granite Nature seems to hide 
herself. Some secrets man hath, indeed, suc- 

Foretokens of Immortality 

ceeded in wresting from her unwilling band. 
He hath found out how to make sweet the 
fruit which Nature makes bitter ; how to make 
hard metals soft; how to hew marble into a 
temple ; how to make a desert become a garden 
or a city. But neither tears nor prayers nor 
longings have availed to wring from the lips of 
Nature the awful secret that hangs above 
man's grave. The stone castles, within which 
kings and emperors secrete themselves, will fall 
like houses of pasteboard before man's heavy 
cannon. Nor can the banker devise a safety- 
vault of steel that man's sharp chisel can not 
penetrate. But Death can build a wall that de- 
fies attack. Though the doors of the grave, at 
the touch of an infant's hand, swing inward 
to receive the newcomer, a giant's hand can- 
not cause the adamantine door to swing out- 
ward for his release. All feet, whether walk- 
ing in the paths of glory or the paths of ob- 
scurity, are journeying toward a grave digged 
midst the waving grass. Even lovers who 
clasp hands in an eternal friendship shall soon 
discover that their embrace was an eternal 
farewell. The happy parent, who in the morn- 

The Witness of Great Men to Immortality 

ing swings the gleeful child, shall, when the 
sun hath set, find his hot tears falling upon a 
little face grown cold in death: for the streets 
of every city converge toward one point — the 
old churchyard. If Youth whispers, "Man is 
fashioned like a god," Age echoes, "Man fades 
like a leaf." 

Nevertheless, there is a silence that thun- 
ders. Nature hath a concealment which is rev- 
elation. Secrets there are that proclaim them- 
selves upon the housetops, and life hath a hori- 
zon that speaks eloquently of a continent, 
hidden, indeed, but real. For shallowness 
alone hath no secrets. It is superficiality 
that tells the full story. But the unseen forces, 
the chemists in the roots, the monarchs of the 
clouds, the giant forces in the harvests — these 
work in secrecy and silence. Gravity doth 
not blow a trumpet before it. The sunbeam 
doth not lift up its voice and cry aloud in the 
street. If summer, journeying northward, 
drives the arctic winds back into their icy cav- 
erns, summer's loudest tone is the soft whis- 
per of the south-wind. 

For Nature's silence is only seeming; her con- 

Foretokens of Immortality 

cealments are big with testimony. Every apple 
blossom blushes forth its secret of the rosy 
apple that is to be. Every acorn throbs with 
the germ of an acre-covering oak. Every seed 
aches with its thoughts of a golden sheaf that 
soon will ripen. The perturbations that deflect 
Uranus from its path proclaim the new planet 
soon to stand upon the horizon. The great dis- 
coverer tells us that at the very darkest mo- 
ment of his voyage he received overtures from 
the unseen continent. The ocean currents bore 
golden branches upon their bosom, while 
through the air came the land-birds — the 
birds of paradise, brilliant with color — and, 
pouring forth their thrilling songs, welcomed 
Columbus to a continent hidden, indeed, be- 
yond the horizon, but a continent that was so 
great as to involve apparent concealments of 
distant rivers and valleys, of forests and mines 
and mountains. How small the continent that 
could in a single day have revealed itself to 
the discoverer! 

Just as sailors, when they are still far out at 
sea, know that they are drawing near home by 
reason of the odors of shores as yet unseen ; as 

The Witness of Great Men to Immortality 

Sir Launfal, after long years of absence, stayed 
his tired horse beneath an old tree many miles 
from home, yet heard the tones of the bells 
in the old abbey sending sweet welcome on 
before; as in that picture called "The Aurora " 
the watchman in the night saw the feet of the 
dawn standing upon the mountain-tops a full 
half-hour before the sun rose in the sky — so, if 
clouds are about man's tomb and silence above 
his grave, for him also there are rifts in the 
clouds, there are moments when heavy dra- 
peries of darkness part, there are voices that fall 
softly through the air, whispering that man's 
home is not the tomb on which we strew flow- 
ers and shed tears 

Man's thoughts outnumber the sands; his 
hopes exceed the stars. Sometimes his tears 
hold a sorrow that is deeper than the sea — his 
friendship, who can measure ? Life that is so 
rich, so sad, so happy, ought also to be long. 
When little Roland, sitting upon the knee of 
King Charlemagne, besought the great ruler 
to tell him what treasures were to be his, the 
wise King shook his head and grew thoughtful 
How could a little child receive from a great 

Foretokens of Immortality 

ruler the full story of castles and palaces and 
kingly realms that were to be his when child- 
hood had widened to the measure of these great 
treasures ? In that hour Charlemagne's si- 
lence and concealment foretold Roland's future 
wealth. Thus the mystery and silence about 
man's tomb encourage hope, not tears. That 
God, who can cause his sun, from a point nine- 
ty millions of miles away, to release the world 
from its tomb of ice and its shroud of snow, 
and clothe that world with forests and shrubs 
and flowers, is fully equal to the task of lifting 
man out of the winter of death into the summer 
of immortal life. 

"There is," said Cicero, "in the mind of 
man a certain presentiment of immortality; 
and this takes deepest root, and is most dis- 
coverable, in the greatest geniuses and the 
most exalted souls." Professor Tyndall also 
tells us that in his higher moods the faith 
of immortal life was strong in him, and 
that only in his sodden hours did it fade away. 
And Wordsworth, recalling the years when 
health was perfect, and his young heart pure 
and innocent, said : ' ' Meadow, grove and 

The Witness of Great Men to Immortality- 
stream, the earth and every common eight 
did seem appareled in celestial light." By 
< ' the vision splendid " the young poet l « was on 
his way attended." At last, when the 
cares of this world increased upon him, the 
glory faded away, the vision died in the light 
of common day, and the things which he had 
seen, "Wordsworth saw no more. 

Ours is a world where, as the telescope weak- 
ens, the stars die out of the sky. As sublimity 
was partly in Mount Blanc and partly in the 
mind of the adoring Coleridge; as loveliness was 
partly in the daisy and partly in the mind of 
Burns, who saw it — so the star of immortal 
hope rises for him alone who hath eyes to 
see, and the voices divine are heard only by 
those who have ears to hear. If there are 
hours when the immortal hope flickers and 
burns low in the heart, then must man feed 
his hope by asking help from earth's wisest 
spirits, speaking in their noblest moods — for 
the one-talent man understands himself only 
in the ten-talent man. Man's rude speech, 
when developed, becomes eloquence ; blundering 
hands will become skillful; the dull mind may 

Foretokens of Immortality 

glow and blaze with light; and the children of 
ignorance and limitations can fully understand 
their powers only by beholding themselves in 
the mirror of great men, as in a glass. For 
every one-talent man is a germinal ten-talent 

Nature is not the seed when it is planted, 
but the seed when it is unfolded into the sheaf. 
Is the wild grape nature, or is nature that 
grape after it has gone up unto the Concord 
or the Catawba ? Is the scrub oak nature ? 
Is not natui^e the vast acre-covering oak? 
Is the wild rose nature, rather than the rose 
made tame, double and of varied hue and sweet 
perfume ? Nature is not the child Titian — his 
touches rude, his drawing wrong: but Titian 
the man, made full by culture — his brush full 
of ease as the breeze of summer, and full of 
color as the summer itself. Man suspects not 
what he is to be until, through growth, his 
reason works freely; until his speech is per- 
fect, his judgment unerring, his conscience 
true as the needle to its pole and the heart 
exhales benefactions as the summer ex- 
hales harvests. Just as the young sculptor 

The Witness of Great Men to Immortality 

cannot understand himself until he hath 
studied Praxiteles; so the soul cannot fully in- 
terpret the meaning of the inner voices that 
whisper their immortal messages until it hath 
questioned earth's greatest men as to their 
thoughts and hopes of the life beyond death. 
Hours of doubt and denial there may be. 
Every life knows moments when remorse makes 
earth a prison; when the sky becomes brass 
and is let down upon man's forehead; when 
earth's fruits turn to ashes and soot; when the 
horizon closes in until man strikes his bleeding 
knuckles against it as against a wall and the 
soul is the condemned prisoner of conscience. 
But repentant hours are followed by hours of 
aspiration, when the mind becomes luminous 
and the body walks but does not touch the 
ground; when the earth seems a cup filled with 
the wine of life, the heart rises like a bird 
and God grants such intimations of victory and 
royalty that the soul walks the earth like a 
crowned king. In such moments the soul de- 
spises arguments of immortality. He who 
holds a bunch of crimson roses in his hand 
needs no botany to tell him that roses arebeau- 

Foretokens of Immortality 

tiful. When the birds are in the hedges and 
the wheat is in the shock, man needs no alma- 
nac to see that it is summer. 

So there came to Dante hours when he 
walked the hills of Paradise, moments when 
Milton numbered the hosts of the immortal 
company and Pascal knew the grandeur of the 
upward flight. With Cicero, confessing that 
"presentiments of immortality are most dis- 
coverable in the greatest geniuses and the 
most exalted souls," let us question earth's 
greatest points as to their outlook upon the 
immortal life. 

When an English author asked Phillips 
Brooks to mention the five mountain-minded 
men that America had produced, among other 
names he mentioned the name of Emerson. For- 
tunately for us, the Sage of Concord lingered 
long over his study of the immortal life. In 
the sacred hour of friendship Emerson said: 
"The resurrection and the continuance of our 
being is granted. We carry the pledge of this 
in our own breast. I maintain merely that we 
cannot say in what form or in what manner 
our existence will be continued." Later on, 

The Witness of Great Men to Immortality 

when Mr. Emerson felt that his sun was sink- 
ing toward the horizon, he reaffirmed his faith. 
In his last essay, which was a study of immor- 
tality, he harvested the full fruitage of his 
thought and life: " Man is to live hereafter. 
That the world is for his education, is the only 
sane solution of the enigma. The planting of a 
desire indicates that the gratification of that 
desire is in the constitution of the creature 
that feels it. The Creator keeps his word with 
us all. What I have seen teaches me to trust 
the Creator for all I have not seen. Will you, 
with vast pains and care, educate your children 
to produce a masterpiece and then shoot them 
down ? " 

Having affirmed that the soul did not 
begin when the body began, Mr. Emerson 
also affirms that the soul is not slain when the 
body is slain. Foreseeing the end of his 
career, the sage said: "On the borders of the 
grave the wise man looks forward with equal 
elasticity of mind and hope — and why not, after 
millions of years, on the verge of still newer 
existence ? I have known admirable persons 
without feeling that they exhaust the possibili- 

Foretokens of Immortality 

ties of virtue and talent. I have seen . . . what 
glories of climate, of summer mornings and 
evenings, of midnight sky! I have enjoyed the 
benefits of all this complex machinery of arts 
and civilization and its results of comfort! 
But the Good Power can easily provide me 
millions more." Thus the pages of Emerson 
exhale the faith of immortality. Like a cool 
spring in the forest, hope bubbles in his 
heart. To the Sage of Concord every flying 
ideal was God's pledge and promise of a 
realm where ideals shall be overtaken and made 
man's rich possession. Our author can, indeed, 
be quoted against himself, but on the whole, 
than Emerson no writer has done more to 
strengthen the faith of immortality. 

If Emerson grounded immortality upon the 
goodness and moral reasonableness of God, 
Channing felt that immortality was the log- 
ical inference of man's fragmentary develop- 
ment during his early career. Going into the 
fields, the scholar noted that once the peach 
or pear tree had borne leaves, blossoms and 
fruit, its highest end had been fulfilled. Both 
root and trunk had, through ripened fruit, 

The Witness of Great Men to Immortality 

touched their climax; and, though centuries 
many and long were to sweep o'er the fragrant 
orchard, the years could bring the tree to this 
alone — leaf, blossom, ripened fruit. But if a 
few years enable the tree to exhaust its every 
power and fulfill Nature's every pledge, for 
man, made in God's image, fourscore years 
hardly avail to grow the root of industry, 
much less to exhaust the latent powers of 
reason or memory or morals. No inventor, 
like Stevenson, ever had time to work out a 
tithe of his inventive thoughts, Coleridge 
left the outlines of severa hundred volumes 
incomplete. Even Michael Angelo had to di- 
vide his life of ninety years into three 
periods, giving one period to architecture, one 
to painting and one to sculpture. In his old 
age, having given a lifetime to poetry, Tenny- 
son expressed the desire for a like period for 
music, and similar epochs for science and art 
and history. 

When Coleridge had unfolded his scheme of 
universal culture to Leigh Hunt, the poet said, 
sadly: "That means a thousand years in col- 
lege. " When Southey knew that he must die 

Foretokens of Immortality 

he asked to be carried to his library. There 
the old scholar went wistfully from book to 
book, handling each like a dear friend and 
bidding each a last farewell. For the scholar, 
separated from his library; for the artist who 
soon must drop his brush or chisel; for 
merchant or writer or inventor soon to 
leave the scenes he loves; for all men with 
strength, and all women with beauty, there 
must be written these words: Too short, 
the life given! But God, who gave the tree 
time to attain its utmost perfection, will not 
crowd the soul with faculties that demand an 
eternity for their unfolding, and then cut man 
off with a brief handful of yeai^s. With the 
gentle Channing, let us believe that for growth 
the eternal years are ours. 

When the stranger knocked at Wordsworth's 
door and asked if the poet was in his library, 
the aged servant waved his hand toward the 
lake and hills and said: "His library is all 
out of doors." This statement holds equally 
of our own Bryant. For these are the poets 
of nature to whom the spirit of the hills and 
mountains whispered all secrets. The birds, 

The Witness of Great Men to Immortality 

the trees, the lakes, the white clouds 
and perfumed winds; the high hills clad with 
forests — these the poets loved, and with them, 
as with familiar friends, did linger. Having 
observed with what skill the swallow builds its 
nest; with what foresight the squirrel lays up 
its store against the winter; with what art 
the spider spins ;ts web and the wildfowl 
finds its way through the pathless air, the poets 
havecome to believe that if the instinct means 
much to animals it means even more to man. 
Among the soul's birth-gifts Wordsworth in- 
cluded the instincts of God and immortality. 
Man comes ' ' trailing clouds of glory. " Not 
education, not revelation gives the instinct 
of an immortal life, but God bequeaths it. 

It was this inner voice that whispered to the 
ancient Roman that God is immortal and bade 
him carve a marble tomb so beautiful that 
it seemed not "so much hiding-places of that 
which must decay as voluptuous chambers 
for immortal spirits." That inner voice also 
led the Greeks to ask if they might be buried 
where "the sun could see them, and that a 
little window might be cut in the tomb from 

Foretokens of Immortality 

which the swallow might be seen when it 
comes back in the spring." Because, for 
animals, instinct is God's guidebook to the art 
of living, and has never deceived robin nor 
butterfly, the poets felt that for man it was 
safe to trust the instinct of immortality. 
Therefore, when Bryant saw the water-fowl 
pursuing its way through the rosy sky he 

He who, from zone to zone, 

Guides through the boundless sky thy certain 
In the long way that I must tread alone 

Will lead my steps aright. 

To the suggestions of poet and philosopher 
must be added the thought of the scientist. If 
the time was when Science doubted or de- 
nied, now Science has begun to soar with 
seraphs and to see with saints. Because 
its instruments are the microscope and the 
scalpel, physical demonstration is impossible, 
and Science can neither disprove nor affirm. 
Yet daily, evolution is unfolding new 
suggestions and discovering strange anal- 
ogies and intimations of a life beyond 
death. The biologists have traced for us the 

The Witness of Great Men to Immortality 

story of the ascent of the human body. For 
ages hath Nature been toiling upon the perfec- 
tion of the hand and the foot and the ear and 
the eye, and these are now well-nigh perfect. 
At last Science affirms that on earth there 
will never be a higher creation than man. 

The goal toward which Nature hath 
worked hath been reached, and in developing 
the mind, Nature is confronted with a stu- 
pendous crisis — the arrest of the body. 
Once man strengthened his eyes by fo- 
cusing them upon stars distant and great, 
and also upon crystals near and tiny. Now 
the field-glass for the distant ship and the 
microscope for the tiny crystal have arrested 
the growth of the eye. Once man hurled 
his spear or held his plow. Now the 
developments of tools have caused the trip- 
hammer to succeed the arm and the bicycle to 
outrun the foot. The mind hath invented a 
thousand instruments that now fulfill the duties 
of the body and hath arrested its growth 
Herbert Spencer named Romanes as the dis 
ciple who had most thoroughly studied th<» 
problems of mind from the view-point of ev<v 

Foretokens of Immortality 

lution, and mentioned John Fiske as the ablest 
exponent of the general principles of his syn- 
thetic philosophy. But Romanes, moving on 
from higher to higher, came at last to believe 
that the evolution of the mind involved the 
final outgrowth of the body and necessitated 
the casting it off as a physical clog no longer 
helpful. John Fiske also affirms that immor- 
tality is the one mighty goal toward which na- 
ture has been working from the very beginning 
of life. 

" Does death end all? " asks the philosopher. 
"Has all this work been done for nothing? Is 
it all ephemeral, all a bubble that bursts, * 
vision that fades? On such a view the riddle 
of the universe becomes a riddle without 
meaning. The more thoroughly we compre- 
hend that process of evolution by which things 
have come to be what they are, the more we 
are likely to feel that to deny the everlasting 
persistence of the spiritual element in man is 
to rob the whole process of its meaning. For 
my part, therefore, I believe in the immortal- 
ity of the soul, not in the sense on which I ac- 
cept the demonstrable truths of science, but 

The Witness of Great Men to Immortality 

as a supreme act of faith in the reasonableness 
of God's work." 

Thus we see that Science also has become a 
prophet of faith. 

Centuries ago Soci'ates affirmed that immor- 
tality was necessary to reward the good who 
have offered their whole lives as a sacrifice for 
home and country and progress. But it re- 
mained for Martineau to develop the thought 
that the protracted life of good men and bad 
alike would be fatal to the progress of civiliza- 
tion. Strange that the earthly death of good 
men and great is one of God's chiefest boons 
to society I What would be the result if, in the 
world of science and letters, great men lived 
on for centuries ? Give Newton two hundred 
years for astronomy and he will make a com- 
plete map of the heavens, search out all laws, 
squeeze all the truths from the stars and leave 
to young astronomers only a worn and beaten 
track. In literature also two hundred years 
would enable Scott or Dickens to fill all the li- 
braries with books — tell the story of each gen- 
eration and century through some noble vol- 
ume. In the realm of invention, also, if Edi- 

Foretokens of Immortality 

son at eighty years of age could begin afresh 
and go on for another century, all discoveries 
would at last be concentrated in his hands. In 
the realm of wealth two generations with two 
hundred years each would make all society vas- 
sals to a few families. The young need the at- 
mosphere of opportunity and the stimulus of 
the unknown. But overshadowed by these 
enormous aggregations of wisdom and wealth 
and power, young men would shrivel and finally 
perish away. Under such conditions the new 
ideas of youth could only be introduced by an 
earthquake shock or a revolution. And if the 
continued existence of the good and great 
would be so disastrous, what could be said if 
the reins of government were placed in the 
hands of some Nero or Napoleon, and continued 
there for some two or three hundred years, 
during which time men would forget their tra- 
ditions of freedom and the ambitious General 
would organize the forces of imperialism to 
strangle personal liberty ? 

Under such conditions free institutions 
would become impossible. Therefore, God or- 
dained death ' ' to wrest the incubus from the 

The Witness of Great Men to Immortality 

breast of dying nations." Better a thousand 
times a short-lived generation, even though it 
involves the death of the good, not less than 
the bad — for the memory of the wicked will 
soon perish, but the influence and memory of 
the good and great abide an imperishable 
stimulus to progress. Because one good cus- 
tom or man can corrupt a world, and one bad 
person debase it with centuries of power, death 
comes in to withdraw the clog and make pos- 
sible all social progress. Thus the problem is 
not that man dies so soon, but that man lives 
so long. 

Centuries ago Plato expressed the hope 
that at some future time the moral law might 
become a person ; that, beholding, all mankind 
might stand amazed and entranced. Law 
alone was an abstractum too cold to kindle the 
heart's enthusiasm. Fulfilling this desire, 
Jesus Christ entered the earthly scene. 
He came to teach the disciples of Socrates that 
nothing evil can befall a good man after death. 
He came to fulfill the thought of Cicero, that 
ideals are overtures of immortality. He ful- 
fills Bryant's hope that he who notes the 

Foretokens of Immortality 

sparrow's fall will guard his children's graves. 
To Tennyson, falling on the altar stairs, that 
slope through darkness up to God, he whispers 
that for life and death alike there is "one 
law, one element, and one far-off divine event 
to which the whole creation moves." These 
who cast their flowers and tears upon the 
grave are bidden to look up and cherish the 
memory of the dead, for the friendships begun 
in time shall wax through eternity. 

Therefore the musician may die to the music of 
his own requiem ; the poet may pass away to the 
note of his own bugle-call ; the hero and pa- 
triot need not fear when the sunset-gun 
doth boom at last. In the gallery of the Vat- 
ican the pilgrim reads upon one side the Chris- 
tian inscriptions, copied from the catacombs, 
while on the other side are inscriptions from 
the Roman temples. There a single sigh 
echoes along the line of white marble: "Fare- 
well, farewell, and forever farewell," But 
upon the other side are these words: "He 
who dies in Christ dies in peace and hope." 
For the hope of immortality is the very gen- 
ius of Christ's mission and message. God 

The Witness of Great Men to Immortality 

lives, Christ loves, goodness is eternal ; there- 
fore man shall be redeemed out of sin and 
death. He who goes down into the grave 
is as one who goes down into a great ship 
to sail away to some rich and historic clime. 
But a divine form stands upon the prow, a 
divine hand holds the helm, a divine chart 
marks out the voyage, a divine mind knows 
where the distant harbor is. In perfect peace 
the voyager may sing: 

For though from out our bourne of time and place 

The flood may bear me far, 
£ hope to see my pilot face to face 

When I have crossed the bar. 

12 11 



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